Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Can the minister advise the Senate what action the government is taking to further strengthen Australia's border protection regime?
I thank Senator Smith for the question, and, yes, I can. Those of us on this side of the chamber understand that the first priority of government is to ensure the security of the nation and its people. The Leader of the Opposition has again this week given the clearest indication that Labor fail to understand this principle, and anyone who fails to understand this principle is unfit to lead this country. In stating their opposition to the government's plan to legislate to prevent asylum seekers taken to Nauru or Manus Island from being granted a visa to come to Australia, Mr Shorten and Labor have yet again shown that they have not learnt from their past policy failures. This government understands that it is critical to send a very clear and concise message to the people smugglers. Under this government Australia is closed for their illegal business.
Unfortunately, as we know, those on the other side, in alliance with the Australian Greens, were very proud to tear down the Howard government's former strong border protection policies. In fact they continue to have their heads in the sand when it comes to the actual reality. Let's remind ourselves why we on this side of the chamber continue to send the policy messages that we do.
In excess of 50,000 people arrived here illegally by boat. Over 8,000 children were put into detention. Where are the howls coming from the Australian Greens now? Over 1,200 people lost their lives at sea because of the policies that were put in place by the other side. Then, of course, we had the cost to the Australian taxpayer—a budget blow-out of in excess of $11 billion. This government put an end to that misery, and we intend to keep it that way. (Time expired)
Yes, I can. As I said, the threat was made very clear this week when Mr Shorten, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, said he would no longer undertake bipartisanship in relation to border security. Labor failed to take responsibility for their policy failures when they were in government. It is a fact that there has not been a successful people-smuggling venture to Australia for over 830 days.
Cast your mind back to but a few years ago when those opposite were in government. Mr President, do you remember every other day of the week another press release was issued, and what did that press release say? Yet another successful people smuggling venture to Australia. That is not good enough. They opened detention centres. Do you know what we did? We closed them. They put children into detention. Do you know what we did? We got them out—and we intend to continue in that way. (Time expired)
Yes, I can. We have been there before; the script has been written. Again, those of us on this side of the chamber will continue to send a clear message to people smugglers. We understand national security; we understand border security, and we will not let the Australian people down.
What do we have on the other side? Mr President, you would recall during the federal election that over 50 of Labor's candidates defied their leader—who has, himself, now defied any sense of bipartisanship on this issue—in relation to border security. They have openly stated that, if they were on this side of the chamber, they would happily have the boats start up again; they would happily endorse deaths at sea, because that is what those policies do. They would again put children into detention, because, again, a failure to control our borders equals those direct consequences. Again, this side of the chamber will not send that message. (Time expired)